Middlesex, UnitedHealthcare contract up April 1

Middlesex Hospital and UnitedHealthcare have until April 1 to reach a new contract agreement before becoming the latest hospital and insurer to sever ties in the state.

Representatives for both say they’re working toward a settlement, but if the two sides fail to reach an agreement, the Middletown hospital could be out of UnitedHealthcare’s network, leaving members to pay higher rates for nonemergency care there. The insurer has notified members about the possibility, but spokesman Ben Goldstein said the notices were sent to fulfill a legal requirement, not to indicate any pessimism about reaching a new deal.

“We are committed to renewing our contract with Middlesex Hospital and hope to have a new agreement in place before April 1,” Goldstein said.

Middlesex Hospital President and CEO Vincent G. Capece Jr., said the hospital has been negotiating in good faith with UnitedHealthcare.

“I am optimistic that we will be able to come to terms at some point and obtain a contract with UnitedHealthcare that protects our ability to continue to provide high-quality patient care, including the interests of our patients, the hospital and physicians, and offers reasonable and realistic reimbursement rates,” Capece said in a statement.

About 6,000 UnitedHealthcare members have used Middlesex’s facilities in the past year, according to the insurer. The negotiations involve UnitedHealthcare and Oxford commercial plans, not Medicare and Medicaid plans.